Evolution of the control of Coccidiosis in broilers: New preventive horizons
Coccidiosis is one of the most devastating diseases in the poultry industry, severely affecting broiler farming throughout the world...
Coccidiosis is one of the most devastating diseases in the poultry industry, severely affecting broiler farming throughout the world. With significant economic consequences and a direct impact on the welfare of birds, the search for effective methods to control this pathology has become overriding.
Coccidiosis and its symptoms
Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract of broilers. These protozoa of the genus Eimeria have a life cycle that is divided into two phases. The asexual phase is the one in which reproduction occurs within the enterocytes of the epithelium of the birds (they invade and damage the intestinal cells), which causes diarrhea, weight loss, lack of appetite, dehydration and even death in serious cases. On the other hand, the sexual phase is the one that takes place in the intestinal lumen, where the union of gametes occurs and later the oocysts are excreted through the feces into the environment and spread to the rest of the birds on the farm.
In addition to welfare issues, coccidiosis can have a negative impact on poultry production, as it reduces feed conversion and slows growth in poultry. Likewise, it is a predisposing factor for other extremely important pathologies in poultry farming, such as necrotic enteritis.
Traditional methods of prevention
For decades, chemical coccidiostats have been the backbone of coccidiosis treatment in broiler farming. Its efficacy in the prevention and control of the disease has been undeniable, but for years, a worrying phenomenon has been evident: the appearance of resistance, a fact that leads to ineffectiveness in the control of coccidiosis, with worsening of productive parameters such as the conversion rate, the average daily gain, mortality and morbidity, etc.
The emergence of resistance is due to the selective pressure exerted by the prolonged and widespread use of chemical coccidiostats in broiler breeding. Coccidia with certain genetic mutations can survive the action of these drugs, and over time, these resistant strains multiply and spread, compromising the effectiveness of the treatments.
To address this problem, poultry producers have been forced to adopt a strategy of rotating and combining chemical coccidiostats. Rotation involves periodically changing the type of coccidiostat used, preventing a single parasite strain from becoming dominant and developing resistance to a specific drug. Combination, on the other hand, involves the use of two or more coccidiostats with different modes of action, making it difficult for parasites to develop resistance to both at the same time.
However, at present, there has been evidence of a worrying decline in its effectiveness, since coccidiosis continues to persist despite these efforts. This phenomenon has generated uncertainty about the long-term viability of rotations as a method of disease control. The emerging resistance of parasites to multiple coccidiostats has raised the need to look for new alternatives to face this challenge and guarantee the welfare of birds in the poultry industry.
Another strategy used to combat coccidiosis is vaccination. Coccidia vaccines, developed to immunize birds against different coccidia, offer more specific and long-lasting protection than conventional chemical treatments.
The effectiveness of coccidial vaccines lies in their ability to stimulate the immune response of birds and generate active immunity. By exposing broilers to attenuated versions of coccidia, vaccines allow them to develop resistance and tolerance to future infections.
However, vaccination against coccidiosis also entails challenges and associated problems. Proper vaccination management is crucial to ensure an optimal immune response. Errors in the administration, storage or preparation of vaccines can compromise their efficacy and reduce the protection offered to birds.
In addition, coccidial vaccines are specific for certain species of coccidia. This means that to achieve complete protection against all strains of coccidiosis present on a farm, it may be necessary to use several different vaccines. This can increase costs and complicate the vaccination schedule.
An important aspect to consider is the appearance of variants or strains of coccidiosis against which vaccines may be less effective. As these parasites have a great capacity to mutate and adapt, vaccine-resistant strains can emerge. Therefore, it is crucial to keep constant vigilance and update vaccines in case new strains emerge.
Natural Alternatives: Gut Optimizing Pronutrients
In the search of more effective and safer alternatives, a product based on pronutrients called Alquernat Zycox has been developed. These gut-optimizing pronutrients are natural active principles derived from the shikimic acid pathway, a metabolic pathway found exclusively in plant cells and algae.
The main advantage of the gut-optimizing pronutrients used in Alquernat Zycox lies in their ability to optimize the local immune response of the gut in broilers. When administered, optimizing pronutrients stimulate the expression of specific genes in the local immune cells of the intestine (genes that are not expressed in factory farming, or are underexpressed). The result is an increase in the translation of these DNA sequences into specific functional proteins, such as different types of interleukins (IL) responsible for activating the immunological pathways that eliminate intracellular parasites such as coccidia.
Intestine optimizer pronutrients favor the elimination of coccidia from intestinal cells, breaking the parasite cycle and therefore inhibiting their reproduction and elimination from the environment (reduces spread).
It is important to highlight that Alquernat Zycox is highly versatile and can be used in a complementary way with other traditional and vaccination methods. Its ability to optimize the immune response and its effectiveness in eliminating coccidia make it a strategic ally in the management of coccidiosis in broilers.
It is a product that does not generate waste, resistance, nor does it require a withdrawal period.
Some interesting results in relation to Alquernat Zycox are the following:
- In one trial two groups were compared, one supplemented with Alquernat Zycox L (liquid version) for 5 days at 0.5 ml/l (T2) and the other without any supplementation (T1).
Alquernat Zycox had a positive impact on the coccidiosis outbreak and also on production parameters.
Coccidiosis continues to be a devastating disease for the poultry industry, affecting the welfare and production of broilers. Traditional treatment methods, such as chemical coccidiostats, have been effective for years, but the emergence of resistance has posed significant challenges. Vaccination has proven to be a more specific and long-lasting alternative, although it also entails challenges in its management and adaptability to changing strains.
In the search of safer and more effective solutions, gut-optimizing pronutrients have emerged as a promising alternative. Alquernat Zycox, based on these active principles, shows encouraging results by stimulating the intestinal immune response and breaking the cycle of coccidia. Its versatility and possibility of joint use with other methods make it a strategic ally in the fight against coccidiosis.
Alquernat® Zycox is available on the market and is developed and marketed by Biovet, S.A. It is available in premix and liquid formats.